Conservationists are challenging the approval of a Mount Spokane ski area expansion. The Lands Council and other groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Thurston County Superior Court, not against the mountain, but against the state Parks and Recreation Commission.
The commission approved a proposal in November to add a new chairlift and ski runs on the northwest slope of the mountain. Attorney David Bricklin, representing the Lands Council, says they filed suit on the grounds that the commission violated its own policy.
Bricklin: “The policy says it’s in those areas that have really high quality resource values that we’re going to preclude intense recreation use. And it clearly would apply in this situation and they just ignored that policy.”
The commission adopted the policy a few years ago, saying only low-intensity-use should be allowed in areas with significant or sensitive species. Bricklin says he didn’t see anything in staff reports or the environmental impact statement addressing the relevance of the policy.
The Spokane Audubon Society is among the groups suing, with concerns about northern goshawk habitat, which would be destroyed in the ski expansion.
Mount Spokane General Manager Brad McQuarrie says he hasn’t yet seen the lawsuit, but that only an injunction would halt their plans at this point.
McQuarrie: “We’ll start things that we need to do prior to starting construction, so we’re waiting for snow to melt and we’ll get archeology done, and we’re going to be starting here this summer as soon as possible, so.”
He says they could start installing the chairlift this year. McQuarrie says he has yet to hear from the state Attorney General as to whether the lawsuit will affect their plan.
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